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INTERVIEW: Scott Snyder Reveals the Personal Side of Dark Nights: Metal

by  in Comic News Comment
INTERVIEW: Scott Snyder Reveals the Personal Side of Dark Nights: Metal

After months of pre-release hype and two prelude one-shots — Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting — DC Comics’ latest event series, Dark Nights Metal has nearly arrived, with the first issue from the acclaimed creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo on sale tomorrow.

At this point, a lot has been said about Dark Nights: Metal — that it centers on the discovery of the DC Universe’s “Dark Multiverse,” involves DC Comics artifacts like Nth Metal and features2 characters from across the DC Universe, with Batman in a major lead role.

RELATED: EXCL: Justice League Goes Full-Voltron in Dark Nights: Metal Preview

Something that’s been less discussed is the more personal side of the story for the creative team, and CBR spoke with Snyder last month at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk in-depth about exactly that, specifically how the Dark Universe is a manifestation of very real fears for both the characters and the author. As Snyder puts it, the sinking feeling that, “All the dark stories you thought would never happen, that’s all that’s going to happen.”

Don’t worry about Metal getting too heavy, though — Snyder promises Superfriends-style fun in the six-issue event series, which aims to get readers to “unleash their inner rock god.”

CBR: Scott, you’ve already talked a lot about Dark Nights: Metal and the first issue isn’t here yet, so let’s go in a little different direction. First, wanted to hear a little bit more about the one-shots coming out in November, including Batman Lost, written by you. How do these fit into the larger story?

Scott Snyder: It’s really, really simple. Basically, when I pitched Metal, the same way when I pitched “Death of the Family” or “[The Court of] Owls,” they were like, “There’s a point in here at which there’s too much story for you to do, and it involves all these other characters.” Metal is a really simple story on one hand — it’s huge and sprawling and epic in terms of the places it goes and the characters it brings in, but at core, it’s really about the Justice League discovers there’s a Dark Multiverse, that Dark Multiverse is invading, and they’re f—ed. They need to get Nth Metal to stop it, and there’s barely any left in the universe. That’s the premise of Metal, and why it’s called Metal.

The Dark Multiverse itself is essentially a reactive, roiling, almost oceanic subconscious layer to the multiverse — anything that you hope or fear in some ways, becomes material. These things, these Dark Knights that are coming, are Batman’s worst nightmares of himself personified. They’re really, really fun and badass, and we’ve been working on them a long time. “What would happen if Batman defeated this character?” “What would happen if he went too far as a child?” “What would happen if he went too far this way?” All of these are his nighttime fears that keep him up late at night — in the morning, I guess, because he sleeps in the daytime — about him, come to life and brought here. So the one-shots tell the stories of those characters, in really dramatic ways, and also show their plan for what they’re doing here in the DCU.

The crossovers that are coming right after, the Justice League versus the Dark Knights crossovers, that has the first, knock-down, drag-out match between them, as the Dark Multiverse is invading in even much bigger ways. It’s a really simple structure. Batman Lost is really just Batman lost in the Dark Multiverse itself. It’s a story that shows everything he fears and hopes. It’s almost a meditation on Batman. It pushes the story forward a bit, but it’s also just a big artistic buffet for Olivier Coipel, Bengal and a couple other guys that haven’t been announced yet, to show Batman’s entire psychology in front him — because all of those things become real down there. It’s this incredible, Mad Max-ian, nutty, place to be.

It goes: Metal #1, #2, #3, Batman: Lost, #4, #5, #6. If you read that, you don’t need to read anything else. But the one-shots tell you the story of these characters that are coming here as the first wave of invasion of the Dark Multiverse, the Dark Knights, tells you their origins, it tells you what they’re planning to do here. The crossovers that come later, that’s the knock-down, drag-out fight. All of those have repercussions for the story, but again, if you’re only reading Metal, you’d be fine.

I wanted it to be something where you could decide how deep you want to go in — you decide, “I’m going to read Metal, and just have a big, rock out summer event, that’s all of these characters facing off with this tremendous new area of the multiverse that’s never been explored, and ties to all of these old events like Final Crisis, Infinite Crisis and Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Or, you can say, “I want everything,” and you get this huge, richly imagined, robust universe of stories.

And that involves a lot of artists, but Olivier Coipel especially is someone you may have thought you wouldn’t get a chance to work with, since he was at Marvel for so many years.

We became friends about three years ago. After New York Comic Con three years ago, I had an “un-con” afterwards at my house, where I was like, “Why doesn’t everybody come out?” Open invite to the people that we’re all relatively close with — it’s a couple hours out of the city, but it’s on the ocean. He came, Sean Murphy, Jock. It was a great day. I started talking to him about stuff — I already had some of the ideas, and we’d been planning to work together for a long time. We have that, and we also have other things we’re talking about doing in a bigger way. I’m excited.

One thing I’m curious about with Dark Nights: Metal, having talked to you for many years — you’ve discussed many times about your stories frequently have the starting point of your anxieties and fears, resulting in some very serious stories. I’m sure there is serious material in Dark Nights: Metal, but you’re emphasizing how fun it is — are you using a different part of your brain working on this one?

Oh, totally. It’s been so crazy. I was just talking to Jock about it — “Dude, it’s like flexing entirely different muscles,” where you just let the filter go sometimes. You’re like, “And the 10th Metal, which came after the 9th Metal, and was bound by the immortals — Shazam, and also Cain and Abel from the House of Mystery — and it’s hidden secretly in the Rock of Eternity!” Suddenly, when you’re given all the toys, you realize and remember how much you love all of these pieces, and the crazy mythos of all of these things. It becomes celebratory, at least for me, in a way where I couldn’t help it.

The story is personal. I’m not emphasizing these aspects of it because they’re not on the surface. “Zero Year,” for me, was very personal about what I want Batman to represent for my children. There are references in comic book language with the Red Hood Gang to gun violence, to terrorism — you might not recognize it, or you might, depending on how you analyze it, but that’s where those things came from. Riddler is supposed to [represent] a large-scale terrorist attack, and there are super-storms in it, but it’s translated deeply into the language, for me at least, of zany, fun Batman. Riddlerbots and so on.

This was exponentially more of that, and All-Star Batman was almost a training ground for it. It really taught me how to say, “I can tell a story that’s personal and dark and intimate, but I can do it in this explosively huge, crazy way,” where the translation of the things that are personal into comic book lexicon, cartoonish fun, is so thorough, that you might not even know it’s about the things it’s about.

With this one in particular, the reason I do it isn’t just to hide what it’s about. It’s also because, you respond to what’s in the air — what you as a reader want. What I want right now, to be honest — I don’t want to watch House of Cards. I love that show, but it’s hard to watch. Whatever political side you’re on, whether you’re right, whether you’re left, and my politics are obvious — it’s a crazy time. I think everybody gets exhausted by the news. Everybody’s stressed out and worried and frightened, and angry and hopeful, all those things at once. It’s exhausting. When I go out and see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Wonder Woman, and they remind you how fun, and how exuberant superhero comics can be, it just hits a nerve — that’s what I want. Metal, for me, it’s not a calculated move to say, “I want to make it fun because I’m burying the things it’s about.” I want to read a story right now that has the Justice League in Mongul’s alien death pit, and also has Batman riding a dinosaur, and has all of this stuff in one comic, because that’s what I’d like to pick up.

What’s it about, if you’re asking me — the Dark Multiverse, to me, is a place where all of the things you’re afraid of materialize. If you become too focused on it, what you realize is, how incredibly likely it is that we’ll fail, and not succeed. When it comes here, what it says to you is, “All of these things you’re afraid of, all these stories you thought could never happen, they happen right now.” When I’m not well or going through a hard time at least, that’s the way you feel — all the dark stories you thought would never happen, that’s all that’s going to happen. You’re never going to find a way out of this. All roads lead back to doom. That’s what comes here.

It’s a deeply personal story. It comes from a place that, for me, is easily as personal as any story I did on Batman. But I’m designing it to remind myself and Greg and everybody involved the kid joy of comics. If I could spoil more I would, but when you open it, I promise, page-to-page, issue-to-issue, it brings back Superfriends kind of fun. I remember reading Secret Invasion and Crisis on Infinite Earths, and all of these summer events and comic book storylines that made me so excited for the Kirby craziness of all of it. And that’s what this is. I want you to feel like you can unleash your inner rock god, go out there and just have a blast this summer.

It means something to me and Greg, it’s personal, but it’s also a thank you and celebration of how great this art form is, as a way of remembering how incredibly exuberant stories can be, even in dark times. I’m really proud of it.

And after years on Batman, it has to be a treat getting to work with Greg on so many different characters.

You’ll see it reflected in the art 100 percent. Greg’s so excited to get to draw everybody from Hawkman to Green Lantern to all of these people I can’t reveal yet. It’s a joy. You’re reminding yourself every day how much you love these characters, love comics — it’s just a blast. I can’t wait for everybody to see what he’s up to.

Dark Nights: Metal #1 is on sale Wednesday, Aug. 16 from DC Comics.

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